Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pushing It?

This afternoon I stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for the 50-cent iced coffee they were offering today (one per customer, please.)

While I was waiting for my coffee and the "new" Cinnamon Twist pastry I couldn't resist (it was REALLY GOOD too) a young man came in and asked the other server for two fifty-cent iced coffees. He was kind of bouncing up and down while he asked, which I thought was a little odd.

The server informed him politely that the offer was one per customer, and then it got a little nasty. The young man rudely told the server that he had been in several other Dunkin' Donuts today and ordered two coffees in each place with no problem. Then he said, "Fine. I'll just get one, go outside, come back in and get the other one."

I think the guy needs to switch to decaf. Clearly he has had at least 4 iced coffees already today if he's been in more than one other store today. He was bouncing up and down and getting a little aggressive.

And I think it's kind of unfair of him to expect more than one of the deal. If my daughter had wanted a coffee too, I'd have made her come into the store and get her own. But maybe that's just me. So what do you think? Is it rude to ask for more than one of a "one per customer" deal when there's only one customer? I think there's frugal, and then there's crossing a line.

Breakfast Strata

10 slices stale bread, cubed
10 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked ham, cubed
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced onion

Grease 9X13X2 glass baking dish. Cube half the cheese and shred the rest. Place bread, cubed cheese, meat and any vegetables into dish. Beat eggs, milk, seasoning. Pour over top of bread mixture.
Top with shredded cheese. Sprinkle with paprika. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove one hour before baking, and allow to come to room temperature.
Bake 45 minutes at 375. It will puff up! Allow to stand 8 to 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
**ANY COMBINATION of meats and vegetables may be used. However, if you use sausage in the strata, it tends to turn out greasy.

Recipe source: My friend Kathy

Menu Plan for Easter week and April 19-25

Yeah, I'm super late, so this will contain 2 weeks at a time.

EASTER SUNDAY: ham dinner at my brother-in-law's

EASTER MONDAY: Chicken parmesan bake (I made this one up as I went along and we really liked it. Except for Little Brother, who is in an anti-casserole phase. It had BETTER be a phase.)

TUESDAY: Boiled ham, cabbage, and homemade mac & cheese

WEDNESDAY: Dinner at my parents' house (pork roast, turkey london broil, noodles & gravy, vegetables)


FRIDAY: Spaghetti

SATURDAY: we were invited to our friends' house for grilled roast beef, sour cream & onion mashed potatoes, broccoli with homemade cheese sauce and caramelized carrots

SUNDAY: we went to Chili's

MONDAY: Ham & cheese strata

TUESDAY: Chicken piccata, rice, mixed vegetables

WEDNESDAY: I'm leaning toward Taco Skillet but that could change...it's Prom night for Big Brother so he won't be eating, and we're all running in different directions.

THURSDAY: spaghetti

FRIDAY: homemade calzones with marinara sauce for dipping

SATURDAY: Mexican steak

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chicken Parmesan Bake

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 TBL olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 LB pasta, cooked and drained
2 cups marinara sauce (reserve 1/2 cup)
1 cup mozzarella, shredded (reserve 1/2 cup)
2 tsp Italian seasoning (or 1 tsp each basil and oregano)

Season chicken chunks with onion and garlic powder and saute in olive oil until brown on both sides.
Mix cooked pasta with chicken, 1 1/2 cups sauce, and 1/2 cup cheese in greased casserole dish.
Top with remaining sauce, then cheese and Italian seasoning.
Bake, covered, at 350 for 20 minutes, removing the lid for the last 5 minutes.
MAKE-AHEAD: Stop at the baking step. Bake 45 minutes from refrigerated.

Macaroni and Cheese

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 Tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 lb pasta, cooked

In a sauce pan, melt butter and fry onion until soft. Add in flour and whisk until throughly blended. Add in the milk slowly, whisking as it is added. When the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly, remove from heat. Stir in 2 cups Cheddar, the Parmesan, mustard, and salt and pepper. Add Tabasco if desired. Stir until cheese is melted and then fold into the drained pasta. Top with remaining 1 cup Cheddar. Pour into a greased 9X13 pan. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

CMP Brownies!

These are absolutely awesome. A CMP is a chocolate-marshmallow-peanut ice cream sundae that was a local favorite in Scranton, where I went to college.

Get the recipe, photos and nutrition facts at Cook and Count!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Taste Test! Aunt Trudy's Fillo Pocket Sandwiches

I received an invitation to sample Aunt Trudy's Fillo Pocket Sandwiches, which are kind of like an upscale, organic, vegan Hot Pocket.

I tasted the Organic Mexicali Vegetable and 3-Bean Veggie Chili flavors. The pockets could be microwaved in the special packaging OR oven-baked. I chose to bake them rather than microwave. After baking according to directions (about 30 minutes), the pockets were still a little mushy in the middle but the filling was hot throughout.

I liked the fillo crust, and the vegetables inside tasted fresh. I preferred the Mexicali Vegetable to the 3-Bean Veggie Chili.

Here's their press release:
Aunt Trudy's Fillo Pocket Sandwiches Chosen by Good Housekeeping
Wins Two Spots on "100 Healthiest Convenience Foods" List for 2009

Dumont, NJ , March 24, 2009 - After 9 months of taste-testing and analyzing over 1,000 products, Good Housekeeping uncovered the top "100 Healthiest Convenience Foods", helping its 26 million readers live better lifestyles. Taking not one, but TWO of the coveted spots on the list is Aunt Trudy's, by The Fillo Factory, with a pair of their most popular Fillo Pocket Sandwich selections.

Aunt Trudy's Roasted Vegetable Fillo Pocket Sandwich, 240 calories, offers an array of organic veggies delicately wrapped in a light, flaky crust. The 3 Bean Veggie Chili Fillo Pocket Sandwich, 260 calories, is full of zest and a vegan favorite.

Made in the U.S. from premium organic ingredients, the gourmet meals are
microwavable and ready to eat in under ten minutes. Loaded with flavor, it's easy to
forget these tasty treats are so healthy; trans fat free and containing no preservatives. The suggested retail price is $2.89. Visit Aunt Trudy's for retail store availability.

The intense process of narrowing down the top choices started with Good Housekeeping
Research Institute nutritionists searching supermarket shelves and food trade shows for potential candidates. Next, ingredients were analyzed and labels inspected for vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Finally, dozens of volunteers, ages 5 to 85, taste tested each product.

"It's an honor to be selected by such a well respected publication," stated Ron Rexroth, CEO of The Fillo Factory. "Aunt Trudy's will continue to create products that Good Housekeeping's readers will enjoy for years to come."

I saw these mentioned in a back issue of Good Housekeeping. Some of the available flavors intrigued me, like the spinach and feta one. I love spanakopita and think that with the fresh ingredients used in these sandwiches, it would have to be good. If I happen to find this product in my local supermarket, I will try the spinach and feta flavor.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Granma's Rolls

2 ¼ cup milk
2 tbl sugar
1 tbl vegetable shortening (Crisco) NOT butter flavor
2 tsp salt
5 to 6 cups flour
1 tbl yeast (if you get it in packets, 1 packet)

Heat first 4 ingredients until melted. Allow to cool until it is "baby-bottle warm." Stir in yeast and flour. Rise dough until double. Shape into rolls. Place on heavy floured pan. Rise until double. Bake 12 to 15 min at 350.

Rising hint: Put the dough in the microwave. DO NOT TURN IT ON. Leave it 1 hour or so. No drafts! It works great.

Menu Plan April 5 - April 11

SUNDAY: Turkey Gyros

MONDAY: Barb's Italian Chicken over mini penne

TUESDAY: Pork roast with honey-mustard glaze, roasted potatoes

WEDNESDAY: Tilapia, rice, vegetables (we never ate that tilapia last week!)

THURSDAY: Spaghetti (what else?)

FRIDAY: Our church hosts a "soup and bread dinner" after Good Friday liturgy.

SATURDAY: Undecided on that one just now!

Barb's Italian Chicken

This is a great busy-day dinner. You can start it ahead of time and turn it off if you have to do a Mom's Taxi run in the middle of dinner prep. Just leave the lid on, and turn it back on to simmer when you return. (I wouldn't leave this or anything with meat in it for more than 15 minutes, in the interest of food safety.)

Barb's Italian Chicken

3/4 pound boneless-skinless chicken breast, in 1-inch chunks
1 TBL olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 TBL minced garlic
1/4 cup red wine
1 28-oz can plum tomatoes (or diced if you prefer), with the juice
1 tsp EACH basil and oregano
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes per side. Pour in wine and allow to cook down. Add remaining ingredients, turn down to simmer, and cover. Cook 30 to 45 minutes to let the flavors mingle. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Three for Three!

I don't usually put my family through 3 new recipes in a row like this, but I was just in the mood to try some new things this weekend.

On Friday, I veered off last week's menu plan and made Tami's Pizza Rollups, using my homemade sauce and Barbara's pizza crust recipe.

Saturday, we tried 20-Clove-of-Garlic Chicken. It smelled delicious and tasted good too.

And tonight I made Turkey Gyros. Fabulous!

Turkey Gyros

This is my take on a Rachael Ray recipe. That link is to the original. My recipe is below. With enough pitas, this would have been enough to feed 8 people. I wound up freezing the extra meat.

For the meat:
* 1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
* 1 pound ground turkey
* 1 tablespoon grill seasoning
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 tablespoon coriander
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 2 pinches ground cinnamon
* 1/2 cup feta crumbles
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the sauce:
* 1 cup Greek yogurt
* 1 small clove garlic, grated
* 1/2 tsp cumin
* 1/4 cucumber, peeled and grated
* 1 lemon, juiced (1 to 2 tbl lemon juice)

And the rest:
* a handful of grape tomatoes, halved
* 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
* 8 pita breads

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place turkey in a bowl. Add grill seasoning, cumin, chili powder, coriander, oregano, cinnamon and feta crumbles. Wring the spinach dry in a paper towel and add to meat. Mix the meat and form a long 3-inch roll on a baking sheet. Coat with extra-virgin olive oil and bake 30 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to verify doneness.

Mix yogurt, a grated clove of garlic, cucumber, the juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Slice and reserve the tomatoes and cucumbers.

Soften pita (wrap in foil and place in oven for a few minutes).

Slice meat loaf into 1/4-inch slices. Spread sauce on pitas and top with 2 slices of meat, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

This tastes JUST like the gyros I used to get at the mall during college. Delicious and filling.

I think that the meat can be mixed ahead and just ready to bake, or even baked ahead and warmed later. The yogurt sauce is best chilled, so definitely make that ahead if possible. If I had the meat baked ahead, this would be a great "Saturday night after church" meal, or a good go-to meal during the week when I need dinner to be quick and easy.

Middle Sister didn't like it but otherwise it got good reviews. Little Brother just ate the meat and had his vegetables on the side. No sauce. That was fine with me.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Menu Plan March 29-April 4

As usual these days, I am oh so late!

SUNDAY: Roast chicken, boiled red potatoes, broccoli


TUESDAY: Beef Paysanne, noodles, fresh cucumbers

WEDNESDAY: I have the flu. TheDad was out of town. The kids made boxed mac & cheese, stuffed their faces and cleaned up after. Thanks, kids!

THURSDAY: Spaghetti

FRIDAY: Baked tilapia, rice, vegetable

SATURDAY: My choir has the 5:00 Mass and since this weekend is Palm Sunday, it's sure to be crowded and longer than usual. I'm trying a new recipe for 20-clove-of-garlic chicken since it's quick prep. On the side, Alfredo noodles (thanks, Knorr mix) and green beans.

Thrifty Thursday: Sesame Seed Buns (bread machine)

For today's Thrifty Thursday (hosted at Amanda's Cookin') I'm contributing my own recipe for sesame seed buns. I tweaked a cookbook recipe and came up with a way to make rolls for sandwiches and dinner rolls, all in one. This way, sandwich rolls are always fresh because I'm only making 2 days' worth--at the most--at a time. The rest of the rolls are made into dinner rolls which we eat that day. No more moldy sandwich rolls by Friday!

Barb’s Sesame Seed Buns

1 cup milk
2 tbl softened butter OR olive oil (I've tried this both ways and they both work)
1 tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour
3 tbl vital gluten
1 tbl yeast

For egg wash:
1 egg
1 tbl sesame seeds (or more)

Use dough cycle. At the end of the cycle, remove from the pan and place on floured board and punch down. Cover with a clean dish towel for 20 minutes.
Divide and roll into balls. Place dough balls on oiled cookie sheet. Cover
with the towel and allow to rise about 1 hour. Beat egg and brush over
rolls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 15 minutes at 375. Cool on a wire rack.

This recipe makes 6 sandwich rolls or 12 dinner rolls. Bake time is the same either way.

These rolls have been given the "Big Brother thumbs-up" for lunchbox sandwiches. He thinks he's lucky to get homemade rolls for his lunches. I'm happy to be saving money--supermarket rolls are SO pricey!


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